Rocket Boys

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Rockets Symbol Icon

Because Rocket Boys is a memoir, there aren’t many recurring symbols in the book—it’s a straightforward, literal story, in which symbols—that is, nonliteral images—don’t have much of a place. At the same time, there is one crucial symbol in the book: the rockets themselves. In the Epilogue, Hickam makes the rockets’ symbolic weight perfectly clear: it was his own enthusiasm and ambition, he argues, along with the support of his friends, his family, his peers, and his teachers, that launched the rockets high into the sky. In this sense, the rockets can be said to symbolize Homer’s ambition, and his career path—his “ascent” to fame and glory was only possible with hard work and wild ambition. At the same time, his path to success was a collaborative effort. It took the help of his friends to complete the rocket, just as it took the entire town of Coalwood to send him to college, and later to NASA.

Rockets Quotes in Rocket Boys

The Rocket Boys quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rockets. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dell edition of Rocket Boys published in 2000.
Chapter 3 Quotes

I didn’t know what to say. I just stared at her. She sighed. “To get out of here, you’ve got to show your dad you’re smarter than he thinks. I believe you can build a rocket. He doesn’t. I want you to show him I’m right and he’s wrong. Is that too much to ask?”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Elsie Lavender Hickam (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer's mother, Elsie, gives her son the encouragement he needs to build rockets. Elsie knows that Homer wants to design rockets, and she also recognizes that he wants to do so partly to impress his father, who's always turned a deaf ear to Homer's accomplishments. Elsie tells her son to build rockets to prove Homer Sr. wrong: to prove that Homer Jr.'s dreams of engineering aren't just dreams at all.

The quotation also sheds light on Elsie's motivations for encouraging Homer. While it's true that Elsie, like any loving mother, wants her son to succeed, there's also a more complicated side to her actions. As Homer Jr. makes clear throughout Rocket Boys, Elsie is frustrated with her life in Coalwood: she doesn't have many creative outlets, and she seems unable to discuss her problems with Homer Sr., since he's been living in Coalwood for years, and can't sympathize with her. In part, then, Elsie tells Homer Jr. to build rockets because Homer's success will be an outlet for her own frustrations: she wants her child to succeed and escape town because she can't.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Rocket Boys quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 4 Quotes

“You gonna build another [rocket]?” asked Tom Tickle, one of the single miners who lived in the Club House.
Tom was friendly. “Yes, sir, I am,” I said.
“Well, attaboy!” the step group chorused.
“Shee-it. All he can do is build a bomb,” Pooky said.

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Pooky Suggs (speaker), Tom Tickle (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Homer Jr. goes through a lot of teasing during his time as a "rocket boy," he's also fortunate to come across people who support his science projects whole-heartedly. In this quotation, Homer crosses paths with Tom Tickle, an enthusiastic supporter of rocket-building, but also Pooky Suggs, one of Homer's most frequent detractors.

Pooky's nasty criticism of Homer Jr.'s rockets tells us a lot about the kind of man he is. In part, Pooky bullies Homer because he's been arguing with Homer Sr., Homer's father. But also, Pooky resents Homer for daring to dream of something truly original. Pooky is a frustrated, lonely young man, and he's jealous of Homer for finding a creative outlet that Pooky himself can never understand.

On the other hand, Tom's enthusiasm for Homer's rocket science reminds us that there's nothing particularly "un-Coalwood" about Homer's project. On the contrary, Homer only succeeds in building successful rockets because of the support and mentorship of the townspeople: their ingenuity and encouragement gives Homer the skill and confidence he needs. 

Chapter 5 Quotes

The first rocket emitted a boil of nasty, stinking, yellowish smoke and then fell over, the glue on its fins melted. “Wonderful,” Roy Lee muttered, holding his nose. Quentin silently wrote the result down on a scrap of notebook paper. Body of knowledge.

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Roy Lee (speaker), Quentin
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation is important because it shows us how much failure and bitterness Homer Jr. has to deal with before he attains any real success with rocket science. Many of Homer's early rockets don't launch at all—they just burn up on the launch pad, or explode, or worse.

In the quote, Hickam shows us two possible reactions to the rocket's failure: Roy Lee's and Quentin's. Roy Lee, an ambitious but somewhat impatient boy, is irritated by the failure of the rocket. Quentin, on the other hand, doesn't think of the rocket as a failure at all. An important part of the scientific method, he understands, is recognizing what not to do. Therefore, a rocket that burns up on the launchpad communicates some valuable lessons to the Rocket Boys. Quentin's patience and wisdom about the way science works is invaluable to Homer and his team as they proceed with their work.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“Maybe one day we’ll have a trophy in here, Sonny, for our rockets.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Absolutely not. Every spring, science students present their projects for judging at the county science fair. If you win there, you go to the state and then the nationals. Big Creek’s never won anything, but I bet we could with our rockets.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Quentin (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

After Homer Jr. and his friends begin designing rockets, they get a taste for rocket building: in other words, at this early stage in the book, they're building rockets for fun. A turning point comes during this scene, when Quentin tells Homer about the annual science fair, and suggests that the BCMA (rocket team) could enter their rockets in the competition. Judging by Homer's behavior in the scene, he's never heard of the science fair before. Homer's surprise, then, is a reminder that he would never have succeeded in becoming a rocket science had it not been for friends like Quentin. Homer may be intelligent and ambitious, but he's not always sure how to go about translating his enthusiasm into actual success (had it not been for Quentin, after all, he may not have entered the science fair, won a medal, gone to college, or become a scientist).

Chapter 7 Quotes

“You want to thank me.” He nodded toward the box. “Make these fly. Show your dad what you and I did together.”
My father had clearly, in no uncertain terms, told me to stop building rockets. The BCMA was now an outlaw organization. I don’t know why, but that felt good. I had the urge to hug Mr. Bykovski, but resisted it. Instead, I stood straight and tall, and said firmly, and what I hoped was manfully, “Yes, sir. You can count on me.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Mr. Isaac Bykovski (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Homer Jr. goes to many neighbors and friends for help as he designs his rockets, and one of the most important mentors he comes across is Isaac Bykovski. Isaac teaches Homer valuable information about rocket design, and acts as a supportive father figure in place of Homer Sr.'s criticism. But then Homer Sr. fires Isaac from his job in the metal shop—Homer Sr. doesn't want anyone helping his son building rockets. In this scene, Isaac tells Homer Jr. to keep building rockets anyway.

The scene is important partly because it shows Homer Jr. accumulating a "debt" to the people in his community. While it's true that Homer Jr. feels a strong ambition to build rockets and go to college, he's helped along this path by dozens of mentors and friends in the town of Coalwood. By the end of the book, Homer isn't just launching rockets for himself; he's launching rockets because he "owes" it to people like Isaac. Furthermore, the scene is important because it shows us how Homer Jr. becomes an adult in the process of designing rockets. Here, Homer comes to learn the concept of honor-he must honor Isaac's help and support by succeeding with his project. Rockets aren't a childish diversion for Homer; they teach him the importance of honor, as well as integrity, loyalty, and maturity.

Chapter 8 Quotes

“Love to help ya, I really would,” he said, “but I don’t have enough for my roof as it is.”
I looked up. “But your roof is shingled.”
He nodded “If I had shingles, I’d use ‘em. But I don’t. I’ve got tin.”
“Emmett Jones has a bunch of shingles stacked up next to his coal box,” O’Dell said. “almost the same color.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Reverend “Little” Richard (speaker), Emmett Jones
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer and the other BCMA members get an impromptu lesson in engineering. They're trying to find materials to design rockets and a rocket launching pad, but find it difficult to track down the necessary metal and shingles. Here, the Reverend Richard gives the boys some advice in obtaining resources, referring them to someone (Emmett) who has what the boys need.

During their days as engineers, the Rocket Boys are often forced to spend large hours tracking down the materials they need to build rockets. Their mission to track down shingles and tin might seem like a waste of time, considering that many other students in the country wouldn't have to go to such an effort—their parents would have the money to just buy them what they needed. But surprisingly, having to track down resources doesn't necessarily disadvantage the BCMA: on the contrary, it makes them better workers and better scientists. Where wealthier students would buy tin and shingles without batting an eye, the BCMA are forced to think critically and practically about what materials would make for the best rockets, as their decisions about design and material need to be well thought-out in a way that their wealthier rivals' decisions don't. Furthermore, tracking down materials trains the boys to be gifted problem-solvers. When launching rockets, they apply the same resourcefulness they've acquired while tracking down what they need.

Chapter 17 Quotes

I told him about my conversation with the machinist. “I think he’s right,”: I said. “It’ll take us forever your way.”
“And when this rocket blows up and you don’t have a clue what caused it?” Quentin asked, his face pinched. “What will you have learned then?”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Quentin (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

This excerpt shows us one of the most important clashes between Quentin and Homer. The quotation is also important because it underscores the differences between Quentin and Homer's ways of conducting scientific research. After the BCMA proposes a number of major changes to rocket design, Homer wants to add all 5 or 6 changes modifications to the group's rockets at the same time. Quentin, however, believes that the changes should be added one at a time; this will allow the group to identify the results of each change, establishing a more scientific relationship between causes and effects.

The quotation shows that Homer may be a little too enthusiastic about rocket designing: in his haste to build a good rocket, he takes short cuts and neglects the important scientific research needed to maximize results. It's also the case that Quentin is a little too cautious and slow-paced: in his love of the scientific method, he's ignoring the fact that the BCMA only has a finite amount of time before the upcoming science fair.

While Quentin turns out to be right about the need for a careful, slow-paced approach to rocket design, the more important point here is that Homer and Quentin need each other; in other words, they balance each other out. Only as a group can the BCMA succeed—if it were just Quentin or just Homer, the rockets would never win any prizes.

Chapter 18 Quotes

“Ike built your rockets,” Doc said resolutely, “because he wanted the best for you, the same as if you were his own son. You and all the children in Coalwood belong to all the people. It’s an unwritten law, but that’s the way everybody feels.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), “Doc” Lassiter (speaker), Mr. Isaac Bykovski
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:

After Isaac helps Homer Jr. with his rockets, Homer Sr. sends him sent to the mines as punishment. During his time in the mines, Isaac dies in a tragic accident, and Homer blames himself for the death: if he hadn't asked about rockets, Isaac would never have been in the mine in the first place. In this scene, Doc Lassiter encourages Homer to continue with his experiments. Doc's main point is that in the tiny town of Coalwood, everyone helps everyone else out, family or not.

Doc's quote is an eloquent summary of small-town American life. In Coalwood, there's an "unwritten law" that compels people like Doc and Isaac help Homer pursue his dreams. (Of course, another reality of small-town life is that there are lots of people whom Homer can't avoid seeing almost every day, and who try to bully him into giving up his dream.) Dozens of people support Homer, lending him their time, money, and resources as if he were their own son. One result of this setup is that Homer owes it not only to himself but to other people to continue with his rockets. It's for this reason that Doc wants Homer to keep pursuing his dreams.

Chapter 19 Quotes

“Sonny,” [Miss Riley] said, “a lot has happened to you, probably more than you know. But I’m telling you, if you stop working on your rockets now, you’ll regret it maybe for the rest of your life.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Miss Riley (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:

With only a short time before the year's science fair, Homer wonders if he should give up building rockets out of guilt for (supposedly) causing the death of Isaac Bykovski. It's only because of the encouragement of mentors like Miss Riley that Homer finds the strength to continue with his project. Here, Miss Riley tells Homer that if he gives up now he'll regret his choice forever.

Miss Riley's advice reminds us that Homer doesn't succeed in life simply because the people of Coalwood give him their time, money, and technical expertise, but because they give him their wisdom as well. Miss Riley is young, but she's seen more of life than Homer has; for this reason, she knows full well that Homer's guilt at causing Isaac's death will transform into regret at having given up so suddenly.

Chapter 26 Quotes

“You did really good, Dad,” I told him as a spasm of deep, oily coughs racked his body. “Nobody ever launched a better rocket than you.”

Related Characters: Homer Hickam Jr. (speaker), Homer Hickam Sr.
Related Symbols: Rockets
Page Number: 362
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Homer allows his father, who's suffering from a horrible coughing fit brought on by decades of working in a mine, to launch the BCMA's final rocket. When the rocket reaches up to a great height, Homer Jr. tells his father that he (Homer Sr.) did a great job launching the rocket. The quotation foreshadows Homer Sr.'s tragic death from lung complications, but the quote also captures an important step in Homer Jr.'s coming of age. Homer seems unusually mature and civil in the way he treats his father. It would be easy for Homer to taunt Homer Sr.—to remind his father of how he once forbade Homer from building any rockets at all. Instead, Homer compliments and encourages his father, showing that Homer has become a mature young man.

Finally, the quote underscores both a poignant moment of closeness and the continued distance between Homer Junior and Homer Senior. By all rights, it should be Homer Sr. complimenting his son on his superlative rocket designs. And yet Homer Sr. never offers such congratulations. Hickam suggests that Homer Sr. is too proud and too stubborn to admit that he was wrong to ban his son from rocket design; but in this brief, almost cathartic moment, the two are united and support each other. However, the politeness and sadness of the scene suggest that Homer will never feel completely close with his father—a conclusion that Hickam confirms in the novel's Epilogue.

Get the entire Rocket Boys LitChart as a printable PDF.
Rocket boys.pdf.medium

Rockets Symbol Timeline in Rocket Boys

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rockets appears in Rocket Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Coalwood
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
The narrator, Homer Hickam, Jr., describes his “coming of age.” By learning to build rockets, he explains, he discovered his “own truths.” (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer describes his hometown of Coalwood, West Virginia. In 1957, the year Homer began building rockets, there were only 2,000 people living there. Homer’s father is Homer Hickam Sr., who works... (full context)
Chapter 2: Sputnik
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Soon after, Homer reads an article in Life Magazine about how Wernher von Braun built rockets when he was a child. Inspired, Homer decides to launch a rocket of his own.... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer gathers his friends, Sherman, O’Dell, and Roy Lee, to help him launch a rocket outside his house, near Elsie’s prized rose-garden fence. He builds the rocket using an empty... (full context)
Chapter 3: Mom
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Homer has just ignited his mother’s rose-garden fence in a failed attempt to launch a rocket. There is a loud “bang,” and a fire. Neighbors run out of their houses to... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Elsie asks Homer if he thinks he can build a real rocket. Homer, confused, admits that he thinks he can, with the right research. Elsie tells Homer... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...that Coalwood could ever disappear. At the same time, he’s eager to build a successful rocket and go to college. (full context)
Chapter 4: The Football Fathers
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...to school. At school, Homer tells his friends that he’s determined to build a successful rocket. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...mocks him for his girlishness and stupidity. This further encourages Homer to make a successful rocket. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...out between Homer and Pooky, but Pooky shouts insults at Homer. Pooky calls Homer a “Rocket boy”—a nickname that sticks, to the point where almost everyone in town soon calls Homer... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
...satellite called Vanguard, which blows up on the launchpad. Homer, still interested in launching a rocket of his own, decides to talk to a classmate of his named Quentin. (full context)
Chapter 5: Quentin
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
One day, Homer approaches Quentin in class, and asks him if he knows anything about rockets. Quentin smirks, and replies that he knows everything about rockets. He promises to help Homer,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Quentin tells Homer about the history of rockets: the Chinese invented them, and they were used in various 19th century wars. Noted rocket... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...Big Store, he sees John Dubonnet. John knows that Homer has plans to build another rocket, and seems proud of Homer for being ambitious and trying to leave Coalwood. John explains... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...goes to Homer’s house. Outside, by the coal furnace, they experiment with different proportions of rocket fuel. After they’ve “cooked” each batch of fuel, they test it by throwing it into... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Quentin and Homer join Roy Lee to test their new rockets. They go to the creek near Homer’s house where they know they won’t be seen.... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...gone to Dorothy’s house to study with her. Dorothy is eager to hear about Homer’s rockets. She believes him when he says he’ll work with Wernher von Braun one day, and... (full context)
Chapter 6: Mr. Bykovski
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Quentin and Homer go to the McDowell County Library in search of books about rockets, but they don’t find anything useful. At school, Quentin notices a display case, and mentions... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
For the next few weeks, Quentin and Homer research more rocket fuels. Quentin proposes using a combustible glue to make the fuel burn more evenly. Homer... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...fuel. Together, he and Homer plan to weld a nozzle to the bottom of their rocket. Homer decides to approach Mr. Isaac Bykovski about this. He is the father of Esther,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...goes to Mr. Bykovski’s house. There, he tells Bykovski that he wants help building a rocket by welding a washer to a metal tube. Bykovski suggests soldering instead of welding, and... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...becomes annoyed with Quentin because Quentin has been unable to find the right books about rocket flight. O’Dell impatiently asks to launch the rocket, and the group agrees to do so,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...steel will be better than aluminum. Over the next three weeks, Homer makes three more rockets: Auk II, III and IV. Accompanied by his friends, Sherman lights the fuse for Auk... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...III and IV immediately. He lights the fuse on Auk IV, and watches as the rocket flies toward the mine, eventually hitting Homer Sr.’s office. Homer Sr. rushes out of his... (full context)
Chapter 7: Cape Coalwood
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
After Homer’s rocket fails, Homer Sr. and Homer walk home. Homer Sr. orders Homer to stop “fooling around”... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...privately. She explains that Homer Sr. is under pressure from his bosses because of Homer’s rocket. She subtly encourages Homer not to give up, and to continue making rockets—but in a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...say these things. Before Homer leaves, Bykovski gives him four wooden nose cones for future rockets. He encourages Homer to impress his father by making a flying rocket. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer finds the thought that his father doesn’t want him making rockets exhilarating. He proposes to his friends that they test rockets in the Pine Knob area,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...the BCMA is visiting Homer’s house, Roy Lee proposes that the group focus less on rockets and more on girls. He brings out a bra he claims to have gotten from... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
In the coming weeks, the BCMA uses a simpler method for testing rocket fuels than the one Quentin developed—detonating small quantities of fuel in soda bottles. The group... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...with Homer Sr. Elsie explains that Homer needs a place where he can experiment with rockets without causing a problem. She adds that “some people”—the teachers in Coalwood—think that Homer’s experiments... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...but coal and dirt. Homer Sr. explains that Homer can use this area to test rockets—he’ll be alone for miles in all directions, and thus won’t cause any problems. Homer works... (full context)
Chapter 8: Construction of the Cape
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA goes about using its newfound tin to build a launchpad, nozzles, and rocket shafts. As they work, Elsie pays special attention to Quentin, feeding him extra food. After... (full context)
Chapter 9: Jake Mosby (Auks V-VIII)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...its experiments. O’Dell fails to find concrete—a necessity for building a stable launchpad for the rockets. As a result, Homer asks his father for help, and ends up visiting the mine... (full context)
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...is at the mine, Homer sees Mr. Dubonnet, who continues to encourage him with his rockets. Homer has the idea of putting up a notice about his rocket launches at the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...With the launchpad and the blockhouse established, the BCMA concludes that it’s ready to fire rockets once again. Sherman posts a notice at the post office and Big Store. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...When the time came for them to return to Coalwood, Elsie wept. Homer prepares three rockets—Auks VI, VII, and VIII—for launching by curing them in the basement. The BCMA decides to... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...trigonometry textbook. Jake explains that the boys can use math to calculate the height their rockets attain. It’s getting late, but for the next few hours, Jake shows Homer and Sherman... (full context)
Chapter 10: Miss Riley (Auks IX-XI)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...the newspapers, and that a group of girls is eager to watch the BCMA build rockets. Homer is excited and aroused by Valentine’s flirtations. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...he finds that he’s excelling at plane geometry, in part because it’s highly relevant to rocket science. Mr. Hartsfield is the plane geometry teacher, and he seems impressed with Homer because... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...with the “Word.” Unexpectedly, he gives Homer some advice. If Homer succeeds in launching a rocket, he insists that Homer mustn’t let the prestige go to his head. Rather, Homer needs... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA develops a new method for launching rockets from a distance. O’Dell borrows a car battery from his father, and uses it to... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...their families. After leaving Van Dyke’s office, Roy Lee says that he’s finished with building rockets—it’s more trouble than it’s worth. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...and the other members of the BCMA realize that they could use these chemicals as rocket fuel. Afterwards, Miss Riley, who’s noticed Homer’s interest, asks him if he’s thought more about... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...the mixture, and finds that it yields flame, gas, and heat—the three vital ingredients for rocket propulsion. Homer Sr. notices Homer’s experiments, and, much to Homer’s surprise, compliments him for his... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Sherman proposes a dangerous tactic: melt the rock candy slightly before packing it into the rocket shaft. Homer is reluctant to do so, since this could mean blowing himself up. Eventually... (full context)
Chapter 11: Rocket Candy: Auks XII-XIII
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...and Homer is preparing to melt the rock candy to try and create an efficient rocket fuel. He has borrowed a hot plate from his mother, and is standing in an... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...to respond. Homer Sr. advises that Homer will need to learn about far more than rockets if he’s to become an engineer. He mutters that rocket scientists are “burning up” government... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
The narrative jumps ahead to the next rocket launch. At the launchpad, Basil is scribbling, and there at least fifty other spectators watching... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Machinists: Auks XIV-XV
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...football, and Homer Sr. and Elsie are constantly fighting. Homer decides to devote himself to rocket science again. Nevertheless, he can’t shake the comment Homer Sr. made about von Braun, Mr.... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...for daring to suggest this, and quickly changes the subject. He asks Homer how the rockets are coming, and Homer eagerly replies that the next one will reach 1000 feet. When... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...machine shop. After listening to Homer’s explanation of the nozzle problem, Ferro recommends a steel-tubed rocket, and a thicker, sturdier nozzle with a higher melting point. Homer tries to draw a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Ferro asks for lumber for his front porch in return for help designing Homer’s new rockets. Homer, not knowing how to obtain lumber, goes to the tipple shop, which is headed... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...tubing to Mr. Ferro’s shop. Ferro agrees to use the tubing to building the latest rocket, Auk XIV. When Quentin sees the final product, he insists that it is too heavy,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The next weekend, the BCMA has set up another rocket launch. In attendance is Mr. Dubonnet. He asks Homer about the “rounds” he’s making, just... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...week later, Mr. Ferro calls Homer to his shop, where he shows Homer a new rocket he’s built on his own for the BCMA. The rocket is longer, as Quentin has... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...Dr. von Braun. In his brief note, von Braun congratulates Homer for his success with rockets, encourages him to continue, and suggests that one day, he might find a job working... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Pillar Explosion: Auks XVI-XIX
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer spends hours at a time reading his “rocket book,” and one afternoon, he and Quentin take turns poring over its dense chapters. Quentin... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...interested in him. Homer is lost for words, and he goes to assist with the rocket launch. (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...straighter than any of its predecessors, and travels high into the sky. The next three rockets, Auks XVII to XIX, are equally impressive—they “steer” well, and fly very high. Quentin calculates... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...where they find Jim sourly watching TV. Jim insults them for wasting their time on rockets, and Quentin shoots back that Jim is only jealous of their success. The BCMA quickly... (full context)
Chapter 15: The State Troopers
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...are all good math students. Hartsfield seems somewhat sympathetic to the BCMA’s goals of mastering rocketry, but he sadly explains that they’ll never succeed in lobbying for a calculus class—Big Creek... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...metal tube and demand to know if they recognize it. Homer tells the truth: the rocket isn’t one of his, though it’s beautifully designed. Turner and the officers refuse to believe... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Natural Arrogance: Auk XX
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...to study calculus at all. In response, Homer begs his father to come watch his rocket launches at Cape Coalwood. He further accuses Homer Sr. of paying more attention to Jim... (full context)
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Ferro calls Homer, asking him how he’d like to position the nozzle on his latest rocket. Homer calls him back later, explaining that the nozzle must be built for lightness and... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...after his phone call, Homer bikes over to Ferro’s store, where he finds a three-foot rocket waiting for him. Mr. Caton has designed the rocket with special fins attached to the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer shows the new rocket to Quentin. Quentin is impressed but worried by the additions Mr. Caton has made—he argues... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The narrative skips ahead to the next rocket launch. Auk XX launches normally, but before it’s gotten 500 feet in the air, it... (full context)
Chapter 17: Valentine
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Sherman calls Homer and tells him that it’s time to take a short break from rocketry—the BCMA needs to go to Ed Johnson’s “Dugout,” which is in the basement of a... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Bump
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...to the mines, and wouldn’t have been injured. Doc insists that Mr. Bykovski built Homer’s rockets because he wanted Homer to be happy. Doc warns that if he ever sees Homer... (full context)
Chapter 19: Picking Up and Going On: Auk XXI
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
One day, Mr. Ferro asks Homer if he’ll be launching a new rocket soon, and Homer replies that he’s not making any more rockets. Homer decides to go... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...hears Jim say, “what a dope.” Miss Riley asks Homer why he’s not working on rockets anymore, and Homer replies that there’s no point. Miss Riley refuses to give up on... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Bykovski yells that her husband would have loved nothing more than seeing Homer launch more rockets. (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Three weeks after Mr. Bykovski’s death, Homer organizes another rocket launching—he’s taken Mrs. Bykovski’s advice to heart. Nevertheless, he looks at his life in Coalwood... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...with Quentin to perfect the De Laval equations and build a satisfactory nozzle for the rocket. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...three dozen Coalwoodians present for the launch, including Mr. Dubonnet and Basil. Even before the rocket fires, Homer knows that it will be a huge success, and it is. Auk XXI... (full context)
Chapter 21: Zincoshine: Auks XXII, A, B, C, and D
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The school year begins in the fall, and the BCMA proceeds with its rocketry. As Homer works, he visits the Reverend Richard, who tells Homer that he had a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
As these disturbing changes come to Coalwood, Homer continuers with his rocketry. He mixes moonshine, zinc, and sulfur, and gets a thick, clay-like substance. He dries the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA announces its next rocket launch: Auk XXII-A. More than 200 people show up for the launch. There, Auk XXII-A... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA’s next step is to perfect the nozzle equations necessary to make their rockets more efficient. Thus will require measuring the rocket’s thrust. In order to do so, the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...BCMA next tries to measure thrust using Elsie’s bathroom scale. They manage to attach the rocket to the spring in the scale, and measure the “weight” of the rocket’s movement in... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA launches their Auk rocket. It flies straight up, but Homer’s small fins turn out to be a mistake—the rocket... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...and launchpad. Homer Sr. reasons that Homer has broken his end of the bargain—he’s sent rockets into Coalwood, even though he promised to never do so again. Homer Sr. gently advises... (full context)
Chapter 22: We Do the Math: Auks XXII-XXIV
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA prepares for Auk XXIII: the first rocket based on the group’s lessons from Mr. Hartsfield’s class, Quentin’s calculus knowledge, and the group’s... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Quentin and Homer calculate that their rockets have attained speeds of 545.45 miles per hour—incredibly fast, but still short of the speed... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...reaches his answers: he’s calculated the precise shape and angle necessary to give the BCMA’s rockets the maximum thrust and efficiency. (full context)
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...fair, Homer sends his designs to Mr. Ferro and asks him to build the corresponding rocket. He spends long hours on the phone communicating with Mr. Ferro and Mr. Caton about... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
In late November, the BCMA conducts its first major test of the new rocket. They load their rocket with zinc fuel, drying it for hours and hours. Meanwhile, Homer... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...three hundred people show up at Cape Coalwood to watch the BCMA launch their latest rocket. They launch it, counting the seconds it remains in the air in order to determine... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA tracks down the remains of their rocket to investigate what went wrong. This leads them to a glade full of a strange... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA’s next rocket launch is scheduled for the same day as the Christmas formal. Only Roy Lee has... (full context)
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
When Sherman and Homer crawl toward the rocket, they see that Homer was right: the nozzle is blocked, and the wire fuse is... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer lights the fuse, and the rocket launches instantly. Homer and Sherman are unharmed—and Homer calculates the rocket’s height in his head:... (full context)
Chapter 23: Science Fairs
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...calls Homer and tells him that he’s no longer able to help Homer with his rockets—the union is officially on strike. Mr. Caton hasn’t finished Homer’s latest design—the Auk XXV, along... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
Homer is desperate to finish his rocket designs, so he and the BCMA hatch a daring plan. In the middle of the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
...Pooky’s son, chases him, and Homer swings the heavy sack containing the nozzles and other rocket parts at his attacker. The sack slips out of Homer’s hands and sails into the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Homer yells at Calvin for making him lose his rocket parts. Calvin looks confused, and mutters that he “just wanted to talk” to Homer, and... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...of the BCMA in his car. Homer is carrying his plans and equations for the rocket, along with all his rocket parts. Miss Riley is unable to attend. At the fair,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Homer a number of technical questions about his nozzles and equations. Homer boasts that his rocket can attain a height of three miles. Strangely, the judges seem unimpressed—they comment that Homer’s... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...When they return, they’re astounded to discover that they’ve been awarded first prize for their rocketry—the BCMA will be moving on to the state science fair finals. Homer is overjoyed, and... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
The BCMA schedules a celebratory rocket launch on the day of the senior prom. There is a healthy crowd at the... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...Field of Propulsion.” The Air Force representative, an experienced major, tells the boys that their rockets are the most sophisticated he’s seen outside of Cape Canaveral. (full context)
Chapter 25: The National Science Fair
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...him charts and diagrams on nozzle functions. O’Dell prepares a beautiful case for the BCMA’s rocket parts, and Sherman and Billy photograph Cape Coalwood to make Homer’s presentation more visually interesting. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...surveys his competition. He’s initially afraid because a team from Texas is also presenting on rocket propulsion, but he’s relieved when he sees that none of their designs rival the BCMA’s... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...that his project draws a big crowd, but Orville warns that this means nothing by itself—rockets are inherently popular. On the second night of the competition, Orville and Homer join the... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...of the fair, Homer passes through the exhibition hall and is shocked to find his rocket parts missing. Homer complains to the security guard, who tells Homer that he’s in a... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...no other option, Homer calls his home. He explains to Elsie that he needs extra rocket parts, immediately. Elsie explains to Homer that this will be impossible—Homer Sr. is busy with... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...next morning, Homer rushes to the train station, where he finds a box with extra rocket parts. Hugely relieved, Homer prepares for the judges’ assessments. (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...That morning, Orville gives him some surprising news: while Homer was frantically looking for his rocket parts, Orville and the other competitors told the judges panel that if Homer wasn’t given... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...argues, Homer must take pleasure in his life, and continue to pursue his dreams of rocketry and engineering. Homer confesses to Jake that he’s afraid of his future. Jake only laughs,... (full context)
Chapter 26: All Systems Go: Auks XXVI-XXXI (June 4, 1960)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Hard Work, Scarcity, Science, and Innovation Theme Icon
...that he needed to work in the machine shop to print more of the necessary rocket parts. In the ensuing fight, Homer Sr. was forced to give in to the union.... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
...about to begin, the BCMA decides to say goodbye in style, by launching their remaining rockets into the sky. Quentin proposes that they should launch the rockets from above the ground,... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
On the first Saturday in June of 1960—the day of the final rocket launch—Homer is sad to see Homer Sr. walk to the mine for his usual schedule... (full context)
The Cold War and the Space Race Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...wowing the crowd. Finally, Homer announces the launch of Auk XXXI, the final and largest rocket. Inside is the same nozzle that Dr. von Braun praised at the science fair. Just... (full context)
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...the sky with a thunderous burst. Homer and the BCMA watch in awe as their rocket attains a height of more than six miles, and continues shooting up—to the point where... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Group Theme Icon
Dreams, Ambition, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Homer turns to his father. Homer Sr. is beaming—he praises the rocket for being “beautiful.” Suddenly, he begins to cough, and bends over, as though in pain.... (full context)
Epilogue
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...Inside, he was amazed to find his old science fair prizes, along with a beautiful rocket nozzle. (full context)